Alzheimer’s disease may be among the most frightening medical conditions to imagine. None of us wants to think of a life in which our bodies are physically, but not mentally, capable. However, it is important to understand what Alzheimer’s disease really is and how it differs from other forms of memory loss.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of a larger term ‘dementia’. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a
specific disease, but dementia is a term for a group of symptoms that result in memory decline or a deterioration in your ability to reason or apply thinking skills.
What causes dementia?
Dementia happens because of cell damage in the brain that prevents normal brain cell communication. There are various causes for the cell damage – some known and others not. Dementia can affect your thinking and also your feelings and behaviors. The changes in memory, language, and other brain abilities are prominent enough to interfere with daily life. There are treatments for dementia symptoms, including those of Alzheimer’s. In most cases, the earlier your doctor can evaluate you, the more likely you can have extended quality of life, but there is usually no cure.
Most changes in the brain leading to dementia are permanent and worsen over time. However, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or addressed:
Medication side effects
Excess use of alcohol
What is typical age-related memory loss?
The Alzheimer’s Association has suggestions about the changes that are more typical with aging.
Here are a few of them.
Forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
Making occasional errors with your bills or household finances.
Occasionally asking for help with recording a TV show or operating another electronic device.
Confusing the day of the week, but figuring it out later.
Sometimes trying to think of the right word.
Misplacing things from time to time, but being able to retrace steps to locate them.
Healthier choices for a healthy brain
Talking about memory loss is not fun. There is some good news. Research points to connections between lifestyle choices and brain health.
Stay physically active. Increasing your blood flow through exercise is good for your heart and your brain because it benefits all the vessels in your body.
Make healthier food choices. Some of the same diets that are heart healthy could also help reduce your risk of dementia.
Stay socially and mentally active. Research indicates it is helpful to maintain social interactions in person. Additionally, try challenging your mind with continual learning or solving puzzles.
Dementia is not a normal or ‘acceptable’ part of aging. Talk to your doctor if you or your loved ones experience symptoms. Proper diagnosis is critical and resources are available if needed.
Source: Alzheimer’s Association website: https://www.alz.org